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Glen Cove to vote on proposal to cede erosion law to state DEC

The Glen Cove shoreline looking east on the

The Glen Cove shoreline looking east on the Long Island Sound, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

Discussion last week on repealing a Glen Cove law turned at times into acrimonious exchanges about the controversial Garvies Point waterfront development.

The City Council held a public hearing Dec. 27 on a proposal to repeal the 1989 Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Law, which limits construction and other activities in areas prone to erosion. The repeal would cede oversight of the coastal erosion area to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Residents questioned the timing of the planned repeal of the law. The hearing came three weeks after Uniondale-based RXR Glen Isle Partners broke ground on Garvies Point, a $960 million project slated to include 1,110 condos and apartments, along with parks, stores and offices. Some project opponents believe the law requires special permits for Garvies Point — an assertion city officials say is incorrect.

“I think this is a sham,” said resident David Berg, one of 105 plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to block construction of Garvies Point. “Why is this being done now?”

“There’s no particular reason,” responded Mayor Reginald Spinello.

City Attorney Charles McQuair said oversight is being transferred to DEC because “I believe the DEC has better training and technical expertise to administer this program.”

McQuair said the erosion law uses a DEC-created map that runs roughly from Morgan Memorial Park to Pryibil Beach and does not include Glen Cove Creek or the Hempstead Harbor coastline near where Garvies Point is being built. The map will not change, he said.

“This has nothing to do with the waterfront project,” Spinello said of the repeal.

But Amy Marion, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the creek and harbor areas also are subject to erosion and flooding and are covered by city erosion-control law.

“Regardless of what the DEC says, this city enacted its own code,” she said.

Spinello said Marion unsuccessfully made that argument in the lawsuit, which a Nassau County Supreme Court judge dismissed in August. The plaintiffs are appealing.

The DEC said in an email that erosion maps are required by state law for certain coastal areas statewide. But the law primarily covers shorelines fronting large bodies of open water such as Long Island Sound. Land off sheltered areas like Hempstead Harbor or Glen Cove Creek are less exposed to large waves and suffer less erosion, so it is not on the map, the DEC said.

The council delayed a vote on the repeal to further discuss whether several city and county agencies must be notified of a repeal plan in advance, as some opponents of the move contend.

McQuair assured council members at the Jan. 3 council work session that no such notification is needed, and Spinello scheduled a repeal vote for Tuesday.

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